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What is an Endocrinologist?

Endocrinologists are specially trained physicians who diagnose diseases related to the glands. The diseases they are trained to treat often affect other parts of the body beyond glands. While primary care doctors know a lot about the human body, for diseases and conditions directly related to glands they will usually send a patient to an endocrinologist.

What Does an Endocrinologist Do?

The glands in a person's body release hormones. Endocrinologists treat people who suffer from hormonal imbalances, typically from glands in the endocrine system. The overall goal of treatment is to restore the normal balance of hormones found in a patient's body. Some of the more common conditions treated by endocrinologists include:

  • Menopause
  • Diabetes
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Lack of growth
  • Osteoporosis
  • Thyroid diseases
  • Cancers of the endocrine glands
  • Over- or under-production of hormones
  • Cholesterol disorders
  • Hypertension
  • Infertility

Most of the work performed by an endocrinologist serves as the basis for ongoing research. Some endocrinologists work solely as research physicians. The goal of the research is to come up with new ways to better treat hormonal imbalances, including the development of new drugs.

What Does it Take to Become an Endocrinologist?

The first step to become an endocrinologist is earning a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. Toward the end of the bachelor's program, a student will then have to apply for and be accepted to medical school. Once accepted, four more years of schooling will have to be completed. Most endocrinologists will complete a residency that lasts anywhere from three to four years. After schooling has been completed, it is then mandated that a state licensure be obtained.

Program Coursework

Common courses that will have to be completed to become an endocrinologist include:

  • Thyroid imaging and analysis
  • Clinical endocrinology
  • Endocrinology and genetics
  • Molecular endocrinology concepts
  • Endocrine tumors

It usually takes at least 10 years for a person to complete all of the necessary coursework, schooling and training to become an endocrinologist. From the year 2010 through 2020, there is an expected growth rate of 24 percent for this position. Before a person starts the educational path to becoming this type of physician, it is highly recommended that he or she carefully consider whether or not it is the right path.